Thanks to a $700,000 state budget allocation secured by Senator Jeff Klein, three more Bronx schools will become part of the NYC Community Learning Schools Initiative, receiving such services as dental and vision care and a plethora of after-school and enrichment activities.
The schools can also use the money on programing school officials feel will help the students and their families.
“As elected officials, we have a duty to ensure our children receive a first-rate education,” said Senator Jeff Klein, who secured the funding and was joined by United Federation of Teachers union president Michael Mulgrew in announcing the funding at a press conference at P.S. 83 in Morris Park on Wednesday, Sept. 25.
“Community Learning Schools take this one step further, by providing schools with the resources they need to help students and their families meet the tough challenges outside the classroom,” said Klein. “These schools will be able to provide college counseling, tutoring, cultural programming or even health services, allowing the school community to decide which services best fit their needs.”
Besides P.S. 83, P.S. 14 in Waterbury-LaSalle, and the International School for Liberal Arts in Kingsbridge Heights will be added to an existing program run by educational advocacy organizations and the United Federation of Teachers.
“The way to make an impact on students’ lives is to put the services that can make a difference – things like health and dental care, social services, support for families – where children and their families can take advantage of them, in city schools,” said Mulgrew.
He thanked Klein for securing the funding for expanding the number of CLSs schools, and also thanked Gov. Cuomo for having the vision to advocate for the CLS initiative.
Mulgrew noted that at six schools where the CLS program began last year, the vision services provided to children learned that 40% of children tested could not see properly.
“It was only because we said we needed the service that we found out,” he said. “You have to put that in the context of a child sitting in a classroom who could not see properly and no one had detected that before.”
Schools are ideal places for families to be able to come to and get needed help, Mulgrew added.
P.S. 83 will be able to maintain after-school programing it has had for 10 years, after a foundation’s grant ran out, said principal Brandon Muccino.
The programing covers theatrical productions, arts, tutoring programs, social media group, sports, and a school philanthropic organization for students.
“There was an after-school program for almost every student in the school,” he said. “If you had an interest in something, we had an activity for you. This program will hopefully allow us to continue that.”
The school also plans on adding vision screening and a healthy cooking program that can help fight obesity, he added.